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Being Married: The Value of Closing Off Options

Another upside to being married: It's the rational thing to do.

In MIT Professor Dan Ariely's new book, Predictably Irrational, he shows how irrationally we'll behave to keep our options open, whether it's TV surfing, paying extra for features we don't even know if we have any use for, or pursuing interesting opportunities that distract us from our goals.

Professor Ariely teaches behavioral economics. When he labels this irrational, he means we'll do things to keep our options open that cost us what we value. We'll hand over our money, squander our time, or damage our relationships just to keep a door open.

So what can be done? One answer, Dr. Ariely said, is to develop more social checks on overbooking. He points to marriage as an example: "In marriage, we create a situation where we promise ourselves not to keep options open. We close doors and announce to others we've closed doors."

Source: John Tierney, New York Times, February 26, 2008 - www.nytimes.com/2008/02/26/science/26tier.html

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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